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International Comforts 

Wine Grotto Cafe brings European-inspired dining to Hayden

click to enlarge Wine Grotto has conceived a wide-ranging menu in North Idaho. - CARRIE SCOZZARO
  • Carrie Scozzaro
  • Wine Grotto has conceived a wide-ranging menu in North Idaho.

Jan Dirk van der Kolk knows how to feed a crowd. Born in Holland, he's traveled the world, cooking for hotels (Switzerland) and oil rigs (Norwegian sea), owning restaurants (Spain) and feeding such diverse groups as health care workers and the former Queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix.

Now he's brought his international savior faire to Hayden. In addition to baked goods, a deli and to-go selection of beer and wine, half the space has been converted into a fine-dining area via European-themed décor and subtle lighting.

The Wine Grotto Cafe, as it is called, was actually created by former owners Hans and Linda Paul. It's open for dinner (reservations recommended) with a European-inspired menu reminiscent of the former Wooden Shoe, which van der Kolk operated in Post Falls four years ago.

For appetizers, try escargot in garlic herbed butter ($12.95), Portobello mushrooms stuffed with sausage and cheese ($9.95) or a meat plate with sliced prosciutto, capicola and salami with port wine-soaked melon balls ($11.95).

Entrées are a travelogue of comfort food favorites. From Germany, sauer braten (slow-cooked, marinated beef) and warm red cabbage ($19.95) or wiener schnitzel (ultra thin, breaded and pan-fried cutlet) with decadent potato gratin ($16.95/$17.95). The goulash, a savory stew with paprika and caraway, hails from Hungary ($17.95), while the coq au vin from France combines chicken with mushrooms, wine, garlic, bacon and thyme ($19.95). Chicken marsala offers the fragrant spices of India ($17.95).

Elsewhere on the menu, the spaghetti ($15.95) and meatloaf ($14.95) are a nod to the Pauls, while prime rib on Friday and Saturday ($24.75/$27.95) is a restaurant industry tradition. A special occasion might warrant calling ahead for the bouillabaisse ($62), paella ($65) or chateaubriand ($65), all prepared for two.

A lighter meal might be French onion soup ($5.50) and salad niçoise ($12.95), although entrée portions are plentiful enough for sharing. ♦

Wine Grotto Cafe at the Hayden Corner Store • 702 E. Prairie Ave., Hayden • Open Tue-Sat, 10 am to 9 pm • facebook/Wine-Grotto-Cafe-in-the-Hayden-Corner-Store • 208-762-3123

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